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Britain's Charlotte Cooper became the first female Olympic champion in 1900 (photo taken in 1908)

Who is the greatest female Olympian of all time?

Here's a few names to get you started: Fanny Blankers-Koen, Larissa Latynina (more on her in a later countdown blog), Birgit Fischer, or, dare I add, Dame Kelly Holmes?

How about Britain's Charlotte Cooper, who has the distinction of being the first woman to win an Olympic title, back in 1900?

The Games of the second Olympiad, which were held in Paris alongside the 1900 World's Fair, were, to be fare, a bit of a shambles.

They lasted over five months and featured a number of bizarre sports, the best of which surely has to be the swimming obstacle race - a forerunner to We Are The Champions maybe?

There was confusion over which sports were actually part of the Olympic programme.

America's Margaret Ives Abbott for example, who won the golf tournament, died in 1955, unaware that she had become the first Olympic champion in the sport.

International Olympic Committee founder Pierre de Coubertin later said that it was a miracle the Olympic Movement had survived.

But survive it did and the fact that women were allowed to compete, for the first time in the history of the modern or ancient form of the Games, was a welcome step forward.

Of the 997 athletes, representing 24 nations, 22 were from the fairer sex.

And Britain's tennis sensation Cooper emerged as the first Olympic champion, winning the singles title on 11 July.

The three-time Wimbledon winner, who would go on to win the title twice more, also won the mixed doubles title with Reginald Doherty.

Since then, the number of women competing at the Games has increased with each passing Olympiad, to the extent that 44% of competitors in Athens four years ago were female.

But which of those female Olympians do you think was the greatest?

Peter Scrivener is a BBC Sport Journalist. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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